1879 David James Oil Painting of River Danube & Castles


A beautiful large Victorian oil on canvas painting by the very talented artist David James (1853 - 1904).

This is a sought after painter, whose work often fetches over £20,000 at auction. This painting departs a lot from his more usual marine compositions, with an emphasis on the sea waves. The subject is the Fortress of Hinterhaus, overlooking the Wachau Valley, in Austria and seen from the banks of the Danube river. The castle is on the hill on left side, whilst on the right hillside are the ruins of Durnstein Fortress, famous for imprisoning King Richard 1st of England (Lionheart). There are buildings along the banks on both sides and boats transporting goods along the river. The painting is signed D. James 79. There has been a certain amount of artistic licence by the painter in that the two fortresses are near to each other, but not close enough to be seen together. However, this would not have been generally known by his appreciating public.

David James was a prolific Marine painter. Yet surprisingly, little is known about the artist. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1886 from an address in Dalston, Cumberland, and from 1892-97 from an address in Maida Vale, London. Before that (1883) he lived in Plymouth. He was a very skilful painter of the sea from the shore. James was more interested in pure studies of the sea rather than topographical coastal views. He was especially good at painting waves. His favourite locations being Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. There are few artists able to portray the translucent quality of a breaking wave or convey the immense power of an ocean swell. David James was an artist who achieved considerable success and wealth as an exclusively maritime painter. He travelled widely as our painting attests, although generally coastal areas around the United Kingdom.

The National Maritime Museum has a fine, large example of breakers. Titles of works exhibited at the R.A. include 'A North Cornish Breaker' and 'An Atlantic Roller', but he exhibited widely. He lived in Dalston in 1886, moving two years later to fashionable Maida Vale in West London to a villa overlooking the Regents Canal.

The painting has been mounted in a nice gilded wood frame. Condition is good.

Size image: 76.5 x 51 cm (30 x 20 inches)
Size frame: 88 x 62 x 5 cm (34 5/8 x 24 3/8 x 2 inches)
Weight: 3900 g